How to Calculate Standard Deviation in Excel [Step-by-Step]

August 11, 2023 1.0K views

In this article, we will guide you on how to calculate standard deviation in Excel easily and quickly.

What is Standard Deviation in Excel?

Standard deviation in Excel is a fundamental statistical measure used to assess the variability or spread of a dataset around its mean. This essential metric helps analysts understand the distribution of data points and provides valuable insights into data consistency and reliability. In this section, we will delve into the concept of standard deviation in Excel and its significance in data analysis.

Sample Standard Deviation VS Population Standard Deviation

When calculating standard deviation, it is essential to understand the distinction between sample and population standard deviation.

Difference between Sample and Population Standard Deviation:


Sample Standard Deviation

Population Standard Deviation


Used for analyzing a subset/sample of the population

Used for analyzing the entire population

Formula in Excel



Denoted By


σ (sigma)


Based on the formula for sample variance

Based on the formula for population variance


Tends to slightly underestimate the true dispersion

Provides the true dispersion of the entire population


Used when the entire population data is not available

Used when data from the entire population is available

Use of Data

Takes into account one less data point

Includes all data points in the calculation

Example :

Step 1. Open a new Excel spreadsheet.

Step 2. Enter the dataset into a column (e.g., column A):

Step 3. Calculate the sample standard deviation (s) using the STDEV.S function: In cell B1, enter the following formula: =STDEV.S(A1:A10) The result (sample standard deviation) will be displayed in cell B1

Step 4. Calculate the population standard deviation (σ) using the STDEV.P function: In cell B2, enter the following formula: =STDEV.P(A1:A10) The result (population standard deviation) will be displayed in cell B2.

Step 5. Now, Excel will automatically calculate the sample and population standard deviations for the dataset provided.


  • The value in cell B1 (sample standard deviation) will be larger than the value in cell B2 (population standard deviation), just like in the previous example. This is because Excel's STDEV.S function assumes the data is a sample and applies Bessel's correction by dividing by (n - 1), whereas the STDEV.P function assumes the data is the entire population and divides by n.

How to Calculate Standard Deviation in Excel?

Calculating standard deviation in Excel is a crucial skill for data analysis and understanding the dispersion of values in a dataset.

Step 1: Organize your data Ensure that your dataset is organized in a single column or row. For example, you can use column A for your data points.

Step 2: Select a cell for the result Choose a cell where you want to display the standard deviation result. For this example, let's use cell B1.

Step 3: Use the STDEV function In cell B1, enter the following formula using the STDEV function:


Replace "range" with the actual range of your data. For instance, if your data is in cells A1 to A10, the formula would look like this:


Step 4: Press Enter After entering the formula, press the Enter key to calculate the standard deviation.

Excel will now calculate the standard deviation of the data and display the result in cell B1. The value shown will be the sample standard deviation (using the divisor N-1), assuming your dataset is a sample. If you want to calculate the population standard deviation (using the divisor N), you can use the STDEVP function instead of STDEV.

Here are some tips for calculating standard deviation in Excel:

  • Select the data range you want to analyze.

  • Use the STDEV function to calculate the standard deviation.

  • Ensure data is clean and without errors.

  • Format the result and use labels for clarity.

  • Understand the difference between sample and population standard deviation.

  • Cross-check results for reasonableness.

  • Explore other statistical functions if needed.

  • Visualize data with graphs if helpful.

  • Utilize AutoFill for efficiency.

  • Document calculations and assumptions for transparency.

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Algirdas Jasaitis


1. Which Excel standard deviation function to use?

Use STDEV.S for sample standard deviation (when working with a subset) and STDEV.P for population standard deviation (when working with the entire dataset).

2. What's the difference between standard deviation and variance?


Standard Deviation



Measure of data spread from the mean

Average of squared differences from the mean


Square root of the variance

Average of squared differences from the mean

Unit of Measurement

Same as the original data points

Square of the original unit of measurement


Less sensitive to outliers

More sensitive to outliers


Uses the original unit of measurement

Expressed in square units

3. Why should you care about standard deviation?

Standard deviation is crucial as it measures data variability and reliability. It helps identify outliers, aids in decision-making, and allows meaningful data comparisons. In statistics and predictive modeling, standard deviation plays a key role in assessing accuracy and making informed choices. Overall, it is an essential tool for understanding data and ensuring accurate analysis.


The article highlights the significance of standard deviation in data analysis, showcasing its role in measuring variability and data reliability. It emphasizes how standard deviation helps identify outliers, aids in decision-making, and allows meaningful data comparisons. Additionally, the article emphasizes the importance of WPS Office as a powerful and free Microsoft Excel editor, providing users with a seamless and cost-effective solution for spreadsheet editing and data analysis.

15 years of office industry experience, tech lover and copywriter. Follow me for product reviews, comparisons, and recommendations for new apps and software.